All the discussions about the darknet or the dark web typically revolve around the tor network or the most known as Tor Browser, data from the major data breaches, the password dumps and exposure in the darknet markets along with the hacked emails and databases. While dark web is not just restricted to all of these and there is a lot more to explore behind the Tor Browser. The dark web is actually comprised of multiple networks designed for specific underground activity. The Europol reports and the high-profile takedowns of the Tor Browser networks have indicated the dark side of the dark web while in fact, this is not always the case considering the totality of the dark web.
The dark web is a complex, layered environment that raises equally complex interplay involving capitalism, free speech, and potential illicit or criminal activity. It is also the home to what could be considered as the hobbyist uses anonymous chess over I2P puzzle and art installments, underground market offerings for bags of beach sand or pet bricks, and John Wayne fan sites. The dark web’s so-called dark networks are made up of active users from around the world, and in addition to finding hackers for hire; you can also find legitimate advanced courses from technologists who help to dissect the cyber threats. Each of the darknet frameworks was created with different intentions and ideas groping the mind, with the developers who possess different goals for the network’s use. While one is popular with hacktivists, another is preferred by cybercriminals looking for profit, and another one for fringe groups and Cryptocurrency enthusiasts. New darknet frameworks are emerging and will continue to emerge into the distant future making the dark web a wider space to explore.
In this article, we will be examining some of the frameworks that exist while writing and what the activity in each of the framework speaks about the varying motivations of its users offering a more complete and realistic understanding of the ecology of the dark web.
Tor Browser – The stated goals of the Tor Browser are to protect the privacy of the users and to defend the users against the network surveillance and traffic analysis, While another latest goals have been added to the previous one which is to bring the wider access to the anonymous web browsing through increasing user-friendliness. This is not something you see as a major goal for the darknet networks other than Tor Browser and OpenBazaar. Tor gets lots of media attention for terrorism, but this is not necessarily a valid perception whatsoever.
Freenet – Freenet is a peer-to-peer platform (P2P) for censorship-resistant communication and publishing, and focuses heavily on the promotion of freedom of speech over censorship, copyright, and as well as takedowns. Freenet is driven by the ideology rather than financial motives, and it has a number of social platforms and chat systems. Its users tend to lean toward a small or non-intrusive government, and it is most popular with crypto activists. On this darknet, we have not found anything for sale as per the research, most likely because its users give away useful information. It is home to the hacked documents, including leaked and confidential TTIP negotiation documents; internal Diebold emails about how their voting machines are flawed; pre-written Spectre exploit code and guide as well; and data or document dumps that are public. Till date, it has resisted any external takedown attempts.
I2P Project – It is a popular darknet framework for multiple self-proclaimed factions of Anonymous and other self-described hacktivists. In fact, its stated mission is that it is intended to protect communication from darknet surveillance and monitoring by third parties such as the ISPs and is generally used by many people who care about their privacy: activists, oppressed people, journalists, and whistleblowers, along with the average person. The content is primarily in Russian, Chinese, and English, and includes an archive of past classes for the hacktivists that cover hacking and various other techniques. Some of the talks still have the names of the presenters on them, which includes a course on advanced web application hacking given by a researcher from a top technology firm. This darknet framework also includes a chat portal, access to a DDoS tool, and a web application vulnerability scanner.
OpenBazaar – OpenBazaar is one of the latest dark web frameworks, and its purpose is to offer a feeless, peer-to-peer (P2P) marketplace that leverages the Cryptocurrencies for transactions. There are some illicit offerings that include drugs, hacking tools, books and services, stolen media streaming accounts, and bulk social media accounts. Nevertheless, the majority is more mundane, like original artwork, jewelry, books, clothing, and health supplements. There is a wealth of interesting information based on geographies and language use that can help us contextualize these frameworks and their underpinnings and offerings.
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